Hurricanes Irma and Maria damaged Corales Golf Club. Determined superintendent Julio Díaz and his crew prepped the course for its first PGA Tour event six months later.
The first storm ripped apart the course on a Thursday.
Winds whipped, faster and faster, and sand shuffled out from the bunkers. Rocks surged up onto the greens from the ocean below. Everything that had remained outdoors rather than shuttled into the relative safety of the clubhouse had found a new location across acres of disruption.
Hurricane Irma was not the first storm to touch down on Corales Golf Club in the Dominican resort haven of Punta Cana — though it was the first during the tumultuous hurricane season of 2017. “The people here are very used to hurricanes,” says Julio Díaz, the veteran superintendent for both Corales and its 27-hole neighbor, La Cana. “Hurricane season comes and we worry about a lot, but we get so used to them coming, we say, ‘Oh, we can manage a hurricane.’” But Irma, a Category 5 hurricane whose sustained winds eventually reached 180 mph and resulted in 134 deaths and more than $77 billion in damages across the Caribbean and the southeastern United States, was “a disaster,” he says.
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